Swiss Adventists Unite for Meeting
More than 2,000 Seventh-day Adventists from the French- and German-speaking areas of Switzerland united May 4, 2013, in the city of Biel/Bienne for a congress celebrating 147 years of Adventism in the Alpine nation.
The “Hope Unites” event was held at the Biel Ice House, which normally hosts games of the local hockey team and other entertainment functions. The city, where both German and French are official languages, is the largest bilingual city in Switzerland.
A special guest was Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, which itself is marking 150 years of organization this year.
Wilson did not speak in English, as many of those present had expected, but rather preached in French. Using the example of the prophet Elijah, who stood for spiritual renewal against the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel, Wilson called on Adventists to similarly stand for renewal of their faith.
“Switzerland has historically been a center of reformation, and it will get its role back,” Wilson told the congregation, “Today is the time to be faithful to God and to His message. It is time for revival and reformation again. God will remain faithful to His promises, and Jesus is coming back soon!”
Among questions discussed in an afternoon session with members, one was on an increase in secularization. Wilson said this is to be met with a return to the Word of God.
Wilson said that the church’s position as having been given a special task is a signal, not for arrogance, but rather for humility. “Adventists should be best friends with all people,” he said, “but should not mix with ecumenical movements that would prevent them from fulfilling their mission.”
The first Seventh-day Adventist congregation was established in 1867 in Tramelan. In 1901 the Swiss church was organized according to language groups: the “Swiss German Conference,” with its headquarters in Zurich, and the “Fédération de la Suisse Romande et du Tessin,” based in Renens, Vaud. Both administrative regions form the nationwide Swiss Union. As of December 2012, there were 4,394 adult baptized Seventh-day Adventists in Switzerland, worshipping weekly in 49 congregations.
—reported by Inter-European Division, with Adventist World staff